China is > 70% of 5G as subs pass 80M

At the end of June 2020, China had ~65 million 5G phones, Korea 7.5 million, the U.S. 5-6 million, and the rest of the world perhaps 4 million. In June 2019, Minister Miao Wei told the giant Chinese telcos “accelerate” and the results are extraordinary. China has upgraded 415,000 base stations and are adding 15,000 more each week. It will easily surpass the 2020 goal of 150 million.

Korea is second with 7.5 million subscribers but will soon be passed by the U.S. Korea added 800,000 5G users in August 2019 but the telcos cut back promotion and now add ~500,000 per month. The U.S. began the year shipping over 1 million phones per month, but closing stores slowed down the pace. With the 5G iPhone and accelerated marketing from T-Mobile, the U.S. will be at least 12 million by year and possibly as many as 17 million.

Sales in the rest of the world are so slow that the carriers refuse to release figures. 4 million is a plausible total but data is limited.

Decent phones sell for US$230-270 in China, as 11 makers are fighting for a market where all but 4 or 5 will struggle. The Chinese and Korean deployment is all mid-band, with speeds typically 100-400 Mbps down.

The much-hyped low latency is still in the labs and “1 millisecond” will be a fantasy for years. Verizon claims 30 ms latency, although some tests are lower. Open Signal reports “no significant improvement in 5G latency over 4G.”

Which means none of the promised use cases are gaining traction.

June 2020 H1 5G subscribers 86M (84M-92M)

With decent phones selling for US$230 and the price going down, China will almost certainly meet the yearend 150 million plan. Verizon and others expect a big boost from the iPhone 5G, so I’m confident in my 210 million year-end figure. That estimate and 65 pages more of analysis is at

5G performance is highly disappointing. While Korea claims over 90% coverage, Open Signal only connected to 5G 1 in 6 tries. 5G #fail. 85% no 5G in “90% covered” Korea I believe, but haven’t confirmed, that the problem is that mid-band struggles getting indoors. Low-band speeds are often slower than 4G, especially at lower frequencies. See Finally, Data: US 5G slower than Canada’s 4G. Believe it

Latency is about the same as decent 4G. Verizon claims 30 ms. 1 ms latency is a fantasy outside the lab. Essentially none of the highly touted “use cases” and “new apps” have appreciable takeups.

5G is selling far above almost all predictions except mine because the phone price in China is little more than 4G. Decent phones go for US$230-260 in China, with prices falling there and everywhere else. Tens of millions of people have decided to pay the small premium for a phone that won’t be obsolete as soon. I would.

Much more June 2020 H1 5G subscribers 86M (84M-92M)

For estimates of year-end 2020 and through 2025,

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